While on board the International Space Station (ISS), Luca Parmitano will carry out more than 50 experiments. One of them started this Tuesday and bears the name Biorock.
The process will take three weeks and consists of understanding if so-called mine microbes, used on Earth, can also act in space and examining how microorganism communities thrive in space rocks.
ESA explains that the astronaut inserted in the Kubik “laboratory”, which simulates terrestrial and Martian gravity, as well as microgravity, three different species of bacteria, in a dehydrated and dormant state, on basalt slides.
The objective is to test how different states of gravity influence the development of microbes in rocks. This is because these microorganisms are able to resist a rock from which they can extract ions. This natural process allows for biomination, where useful metals are extracted from rock ores.
A common practice on Earth, biomination will eventually be done on the moon, mars and asteroids, "as we increase our understanding and exploration of the solar system," suggests the ESA.
Over the next three weeks, the microorganisms will be "fed" to restore cell growth and develop in basalt. After this time, samples will be stored at 4 ° C while awaiting return to Earth.
Having released the little creatures, Luca Parmitano has other experiences to carry out on the Beyond mission that will keep him six months aboard the ISS.